Anyway, I was reading at about two years old. I can imagine now that My Mother had a female version of Sheldon on Her hands, and My Father at that time was in the Merchant Navy and away for three months at a time. I can vividly remember this nervous tick my Mother had every time I asked Her ‘When is Daddy coming Home’. She would whip out a very crumpled and rather dirty handkerchief, spit on it and rub some offending bit of my face very hard. Saying ‘How did you get that dirty’. Haven’t a clue, I thought I had been washed. Anyway it hurt.
So even at this age I was aware of the diversionary tactic. The unanswered question. The alternative Narrative Of Denial. The denial of an answer, and the denial of the person who asked the question, and the denial of the person being asked. My Mother’s denial that she didn’t actually want to have given birth to me, or marry my Father. However she did inform me of this often. I just joined the dots.
Anyway, it always seemed to happen when I was being dragged off on shopping trips round the town. I couldn’t keep up, and was tired trying to run. So I just asked the question so she would stop for a moment and I could get my breath back, and a rather curt ‘your face is dirty again’. Not Her fault, I kept asking the question when I couldn’t keep up.
So Anyway, Having digested most of the Encyclopedia Britanica by the time I got to School, the first day, lesson one is etched vividly on my memory. After a sort of faffing about bit we were given reading books with pictures. ‘The Cat Sat On The Mat’. So I read it. And left it closed on the desk.
The teacher said why haven’t you opened your book. I said I did. I have read it. Then recited it.
I got sent out of the class and told to stand by the door for the rest of the lesson. So I don’t seem to have had an affinity for Cats up until now. I wouldn’t say loathing, but not far off it. I am going to see if I can try to look at Cats in a new way. It wasn’t their fault.
Anyway, I think I got a good education in life. I didn’t bother much with Homework though. I was always in trouble. Always different. Always bullied, beaten up, called names. I remember having a pair of sandals one Summer. I liked them and they were comfortable, just not fashionable. Just different. I got called Jesus Boots all Summer. I look back on that now, and think it a badge of honour. I never disliked the shoes, and although I felt angry and didn’t know Jesus then, I never stoped wearing the shoes because of peer pressure. I liked the shoes. That must have been the year a certain young man stomped on my toes with boots with steel toe caps and heels on. My big toenail on my right foot came off three days later. It was pretty blue and hurt. The only shoes I could get on we’re the Jesus Boots Sandles, it was too swollen to go in a shoe.
I don’t think I was frightened. I know the Geography teacher saw it happen, but this boy was like the Legion. Full of demons. I doubt the Geography teacher had the nerve to confront him. Yup, I got a head kicking a little while later.
Just a girl. A bit different perhaps. My Mother said I was ugly. So I suppose it was the strange ugly child thing. Reading Lord of the Flies helped understand it all.
Anyway, Junior School didn’t have a very challenging Library.
My Granny bought books for me. She had a beautiful book of Peoples of the World, with wonderful black and white photos in. When I stayed with her, she used to cuddle up and we would look at the books together. We would talk about all the people in the books. Who they were, and their history. She bought me all the Enyd Blighton books as they came out, just so I had something to read. I just read each side of a page every day for a few days, and then read the rest of a chapter. By then I could read a book like that in about two or three hours. Depends if there was a meal in between.
The books were expensive for my Granny, I didn’t want to read them so fast, in case she thought I hadn’t read them properly and stopped buying me books. So I had learned to alter my behaviour. Which is how I got through school. I am still mystified by the terminal case of dandruff that showered from my head every music lesson. Just in music lessons. Like snow falling on my desk. In the end I decided it was radiation sickness, and zinc pyrithione had nothing to do with dandruff.
They wouldn’t let me do Chemistry. I was told definately not after year one. Anyway, I was into handwriting analysis at the time. I also wanted to be a Vetinary Surgeon very much. I was reading up on it. When they said I couldn’t do Chemistry and I was not allowed to do three Sciences, I gave up completely. Something died inside. I still want to cry over it. Perhaps they thought I would end up designing something awful. I just wanted to be a Vetinarian.
So Anyway I had a normal childhood, just like everyone else’s. It was tough, but being a child is tough.